SOTM Tour: The Final Month

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Wadden Sea

The tour is over.

I’m happy. Mario’s happy. It’s time to return to normal life, move into an apartment, and unpack for the first time in nearly a year.

Since we didn’t end up traveling for the full twelve months — just eleven months and four days — I decided to make this the final monthly wrap-up.

Boston View

Destinations Visited

Reading, Boston, Somerville, and Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

Leipzig, Wilhelmshaven, Bremen, Hamburg, Lübeck, Berlin, and Potsdam, Germany

Valletta, Birgu (Vittoriosa), St. Julian’s, Sliema, Mdina, Dingli, Tarxien, and Mosta, Malta, plus Gozo

Ramla Bay

Favorite Destinations

Berlin. I think Berlin is my spiritual city, and I’d love to live there someday. Being there in the beautiful springtime was better than I could imagine.

Valletta. What a grand and beautiful city. It never occurred to me to stay or live in Valletta — but it is an indescribable feeling stepping out from where you’re staying onto the most elegant streets.

Gozo. The tiny island with natural beauty bursting out of every corner. This time, we skipped the oft-visited Victoria and Azure Window in lieu of combing our way across the northern coast, taking in views of beaches like Ramla Bay, above.

Bremen

Highlights

I FLEW. Seriously. I went Flyboarding in Malta and spent 30 minutes flying above the water with jetpacks attached to my feet. Expect a full post on this soon.

This month I attended Social Travel Summit in Leipzig, a fantastic summit bringing together professional travel bloggers and people in the travel industry. This was the first event I’ve been to aimed at professional travel bloggers, and it felt very productive, especially a think tank session on identifying problems in the industry and proposing solutions. Mario gave a talk on journalistic techniques that bloggers should adopt, and it was fantastic — something every blogger should read.

Living in Valletta was another highlight. Mario and I talk a lot about buying property in Malta someday, but we were thinking about the Sliema area. Well, living in Valletta is just GRAND. You step outside your door and are surrounded by the shallow-stepped sidewalks, the brightly painted balconies, the gorgeous buildings. It lifts you up.

Also, I may have found my wedding dress in Boston. I didn’t sob over it, Say Yes to the Dress-style, but I did think to myself, “You know what? This is nice. And different enough. This could work.”

And finally, after several largely fruitless months of World Heritage Hunting, this month I visited five new sites: the Wadden Sea, Bremen’s town hall and roland, the Hanseatic city of Lübeck, the palaces and gardens of Potsdam and Berlin, and Malta’s Hypogeum.

Victoria SOTM

Memorable SOTM Pic

This is my friend Victoria in Los Angeles. We went to college together and she is just as crazy and expressive in real life as she is in this picture!

Her Someone Once Told Me quote comes from her mother and was said to her when she was seven years old. Read the whole story here.

Bacon Maple Donut

Best Thing I Ate

How is it that I had never heard of Kane’s Donuts before? They’re located in Saugus, Massachusetts, not too far from where I grew up, and apparently everyone in my family knew about them except for me.

This is a bacon maple donut. Kane’s isn’t the only place to put out a bacon maple donut, but MY GOD was this FANTASTIC. Soft, delicious, and covered with maple frosting and thick, generous hunks of bacon. I couldn’t think of a better way to end my two-month journey across America.

Generator Hostel Hamburg

Best Place I Stayed

During this month, I stayed at a few fantastic high-end places — the Intercontinental Berlin, which I’ll be talking about in a later post, as well as the Penta Hotel in Leipzig and Palazzo Prince d’Orange in Valletta.

But this month I also stayed at one of the best hostels I’ve ever experienced: Generator Hostel Hamburg.

Generator is a huge, modern hostel with spotless facilities. It’s located right across from the train station, an ideal location, making it easy to both walk to interesting neighborhoods and catch public transportation to anywhere else. Amazingly, this is the first building where the Beatles recorded together as John, Paul, George, and Ringo! (They recorded on the fifth floor! WE STAYED ON THE FIFTH FLOOR!)

We had a private ensuite room here and though the bathroom was tiny and airplane bathroom-like, there was great wifi, tons of plugs, and keycard security.

Dorms start at 11 EUR ($15); private rooms start at 25 EUR ($34). If you’re coming to Hamburg, I highly recommend Generator.

Berlin Bear Brandenberg Gate

Challenges

I lost Berlin Bear this month. After taking him all around the world and back to Berlin, where Mario first found him for me last year, he went missing on a train ride to Potsdam.

I was upset, but I guess it was time for Berlin Bear to go home, hopefully with a kid who is glad to have him.

Ta' Xbiex

Most Popular Photo on Instagram

This photo was taken in Ta’ Xbiex, Malta, which is home to several embassies and lots of elegant homes. This was my favorite building of all, a private home bursting with flowers in fuchsia and vermilion.

With 211 likes, it just barely edged out a photo of another Maltese villa with 210 likes!

Leipzig Photoautomat

What I Read This Month

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt — THIS. BOOK. I can’t believe it took me so long to read it. It’s CRAZY, it’s ZANY, it’s TRUE (mostly), and it will make you want to book a trip to Savannah instantly. I don’t think I’ve read a single book that makes the city a character better than Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Valletta St Paul St

What’s Next?

Right now I’m writing this from Mario’s mother’s house in central England. Later this week, we move into our new place in London. We bought a TV today!

I’m thinking that I should keep up the monthly recaps — you guys seem to enjoy them and they give me the chance to talk about what I’m doing at the moment, which doesn’t fit into most posts.

I’m eager to reveal my big summer project, but it’s still under wraps. Just know that this summer it will take me to Ireland, Slovenia, Finland, and the Puglia region of Italy…so far!

The SOTM Tour may be finished, but rest assured, my travels will be continuing!

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47 thoughts on “SOTM Tour: The Final Month”

  1. I just wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading all about the SOTM tour, through the highs and lows, it has been so fascinating to read. Also, can’t believe Berlin bear is lost, hopefully he’s gone on to new adventures. Good luck for the next set of travels!

  2. Wow you’ve had a busy month. I have really enjoyed following the SOTM tour and look forward to reading more about Malta as it looks so beautiful and I’d love to visit some day.

  3. What an incredible journey it has been! It´s been great to follow along and I can imagine how nice it is to unpack and settle down for a bit. Enjoy London and all the normal ¨mundane¨ tasks that must be so nice right now! 🙂

  4. Ireland! I’m so glad you’ll be going there, I was there earlier this year on my first solo trip, and it’s definitely a great place to recommend for solo trips to US based women! (relatively short flight, English speaking, everyone is so friendly,

  5. What a great journey! I couldn’t imagine traveling for 11 months straight, but it must be nice to have an apartment to look forward to now! can’t wait to read about your other adventures this summer!

  6. Jennifer Miller

    Congrats ! Great fun meeting up with you guys and we hope to see you again soon ! I hope you will add Greece to your list for this year ! Jennifer

  7. Great wrap up, was so fun following along and look forward to stories about London et al. Also very sad to hear about Berlin Bear but you got a replacement, right?!

  8. Wow, exciting year! Nice to read about your best. 🙂 Great that you are relaxing in England before gearing up for your next line-up of adventures. All the best!

  9. Awww. I really hope Bear finds a loving new human.

    I just learned there is flyboarding a few hours from me and hope to get to do it this year!

    Enjoy settling in and nesting for a bit 🙂

  10. Congrats on your journey! And enjoy the “normal” life.. although, I can never bring myself to getting a TV ever again..

  11. What an incredible adventure you’ve had in the last year. It must have been wonderful. I can’t wait to see what the next few months will hold for you. So happy that Berlin (my city) makes the cut as one of your favourite cities. Yay!

  12. You get to live in London. You. Are. So. LUCKY!!! I’m just trying to save enough money to visit lol….

    Keep updating on your adventures, even if it’s just daily life in England. Love reading your blog 🙂

  13. Sounds like a great final month. I’ve really enjoyed following along the whole time (has it REALLY been 11 months already??), and can’t wait to see what’s next for you and Mario! (Also, I totally want to come visit once you’ve moved back to London!)

  14. I have loved following your SOTM tour all year and cannot believe it is over! However, I’m really looking forward to your new project this summer. I’ll be moving to Spain in September, so let me know if you’re there!

  15. First of all, the donut looks AMAZING! Sounds like the wedding dress will be perfect, although I’m sure it is incredibly stressful arranging multiple weddings in other countries. Can’t wait to see pictures! I’m also excited to read more about Berlin and the pictures from Malta look fabulous.

  16. Wow, congrats! It’s been so fun following along. I have only heard great things about Berlin so I’m determined to visit soon. Also, I’ll definitely be adding that book to my Goodreads list. Thank you so much for sharing your adventures!

    Happy travels 🙂

  17. Oh my gosh, I would be traumatised at losing Berlin Bear!

    And yes, do keep up the monthly updates. They’re great in the same way your yearly recaps are – it’s great for us to look back and see all the things you’ve done in one entry.

  18. I’ve really enjoyed following along with your SOTM travels – can’t believe it’s over! Also, I love what you wrote about Berlin being your “spiritual city.” It was a city I hadn’t really thought I would love, but after just a few visits there, I feel the same way! I could definitely see myself living there one day as well.

  19. Nice to have met you in Chiang Mai. And glad we took part in the SOTM. I am native from Puglia and we will travel there September/October, if you need any logistic help and info please let me know.

    1. Hey Gianni! It was really nice meeting you guys at the meetup! Thanks so much for the offer. I’ll actually be heading to the Carpino Folk Festival and don’t have much time beyond that!

  20. I’m seriously tempted to try and find a copy of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil here in Taipei. I’ve heard so many good things about it – it’s just a case of whether or not bookstores here have it in English!

    Anyhoo, I’ve enjoyed following your adventures for the past year or so and yes, keep up with the monthly updates. I like reading them, and it’s a good way for me to catch up if I’ve been to busy to check in 🙂

  21. Seems like a pretty wicked and wild trip! Btw…I had a Maple Bacon Doughnut and Irish Carbomb Doughnut in Los Angeles that was silly good! I’m sure it’ll be nice to settle in again but you had so many experiences so slowing down isn’t a bad thing in the least. Glad to know you will still be traveling at some point after!

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